AL Central flummoxing oddsmakers

mak-baseball

Having been involved in creating odds for over 10 years, I know that Major League Baseball games present some difficulties. For one, different starting pitchers and relievers are used each night, so it’s tough to compare an opponent’s offensive performance against those various pitchers on a day-to-day basis. Also, key offensive contributors can miss games during a season. And teams go through ups and downs over 162 games. This leads to a situation in which longtime assumptions, more than data and recency, are sometimes relied on to make the numbers.

Unlike basketball and football, which involve more plays and more regularity, a baseball team’s strength is often gauged by reputation. Early in the season, what a team did the previous campaign might be a factor. Perhaps even some personal bias plays in. This leads to something I have noticed in the first month and a half of the 2021 season: Oddsmakers have no idea what to do with the AL Central. They missed badly on Kansas City early. When the Royals were playing very well, the numbers weren’t catching up. When they finally did catch up, the Royals slumped, and bettors happily faded a sinking team that was then overpriced. Part of that included a three-game sweep by Detroit when the Royals played twice as road favorites despite going into the series on an eight-game skid.

The Tigers have been the division’s only consistent, reliable team for those setting the lines. They were expected to be bad, and they are. However, this division is shaping up differently from what most experts predicted, and oddsmakers have been very slow to adjust. In fact, it almost feels as if personal biases might be getting in the way of sensible line setting. I have found that in recent weeks, my own game estimations have been off regularly — and by significant margins in games involving the Twins, White Sox and Indians. But I am not shy about saying that although off, my numbers have been right most often. I have built a rather nice bankroll riding the White Sox and Indians while fading the Twins and Royals. I’m going to keep doing it until something shifts.

Let’s take a quick look at these four teams over the last 10 games as of Sunday, showing where my simulation numbers were compared with the final odds for those contests. These are the same score projections you will find on the VSiN.com MLB Matchups pages.

Chicago White Sox

I proclaimed my love for this team last week and undoubtedly will stick with it for the rest of the season, barring drastic changes. This team’s rotation is elite from Nos. 1-5, and perhaps even No. 6, with Michael Kopech getting spot starts. The bullpen is performing better than expected, and the lineup is loaded with studs. The White Sox have managed to survive some early injury woes. This team will make the postseason and will be dangerous. So far in 2021, it’s apparent that I’m a much bigger believer in the South Siders than those setting the prices.

Last 10 games

May 16 vs. Kansas City (won 4-3)

Actual game line CHI -170, my game estimator line CHI -172, lean CHI (WIN)

May 15 vs. Kansas City (lost 5-1)

Actual game line CHI -200, my game estimator line CHI -191, lean KC (WIN)

May 14 Game 2 vs. Kansas City (won 3-1)

Actual game line CHI -170, my game estimator line CHI -172, lean CHI (WIN)

May 14 Game 1 vs. Kansas City (lost 6-2)

Actual game line CHI -200, my game estimator line CHI -210, lean CHI (LOSS)

May 13 vs. Minnesota (won 4-2)

Actual game line CHI -125, my game estimator line CHI -152, lean CHI (WIN)

May 12 vs. Minnesota (won 13-8)

Actual game line CHI -130, my game estimator line CHI -144, lean CHI (WIN)

May 11 vs. Minnesota (won 9-3)

Actual game line CHI -113, my game estimator line CHI -149, lean CHI (WIN)

May 9 at Kansas City (won 9-3)

Actual game line CHI -142, my game estimator line CHI -150, lean CHI (WIN)

May 8 at Kansas City (won 9-1)

Actual game line CHI -160, my game estimator line CHI -156, lean KC (LOSS)

May 7 at Kansas City (won 3-0)

Actual game line CHI -148, my game estimator line CHI -150, lean CHI (WIN)

My numbers have shown the better value in eight of the last 10 White Sox games. Of course, it helps when a team you have priced well gets hot. The only instances I’ve noticed when the White Sox have been overpriced have come when Lucas Giolito has pitched,

Cleveland Indians

Regular readers of my work know I have been effusive in my support of betting teams with good bullpens. As of Monday, the Indians had the league’s best bullpen ERA. They were also sixth in WHIP and ninth in strikeouts per nine innings. They are getting great production out of that unit. Plus they already have two hitters with double-digit home runs and are averaging 1.25 homers per game. Last year they were one of the few teams that averaged fewer than one. The trade of shortstop Francisco Lindor to the Mets in the offseason hasn’t hurt this team nearly as much as oddsmakers have priced it.

Last 10 games

May 16 at Seattle (lost 3-2)

Actual game line CLE -200, my game estimator line CLE -196, lean SEA (WIN)

May 15 at Seattle (lost 7-3)

Actual game line CLE -110, my game estimator line CLE -120, lean CLE (LOSS)

May 14 at Seattle (lost 7-3)

Actual game line CLE -115, my game estimator line CLE -144, lean CLE (LOSS)

May 13 at Seattle (won 4-2)

Actual game line CLE -115, my game estimator line CLE -129, lean CLE (WIN)

May 12 vs. Chicago Cubs (won 2-1)

Actual game line CLE -130, my game estimator line CLE -145, lean CLE (WIN)

May 11 vs. Chicago Cubs (won 3-2)

Actual game line CLE -190, my game estimator line CLE -186, lean CHI (LOSS)

May 8 vs. Cincinnati (won 9-2)

Actual game line CLE -116, my game estimator line CLE -156, lean CLE (WIN)

May 7 vs. Cincinnati (lost 3-0)

Actual game line CLE -145, my game estimator line CLE -147, lean CLE (LOSS)

May 6 at Kansas City (won 4-0)

Actual game line KC -130, my game estimator line KC -124, lean CLE (WIN)

May 5 at Kansas City (won 5-4)

Actual game line CLE -155, my game estimator line CLE -156, lean CLE (WIN)

My record with the Indians has been just 6-4 on leans by the simulator recently, but two of the four losses were when I had Cleveland underpriced with Shane Bieber starting. He naturally commands a higher price from oddsmakers, and my numbers are typically a little less with guys like him. Otherwise, my respect for the Indians seems to trump that of the official oddsmakers.

Kansas City Royals

The Royals surged to a great start, going 17-9 in their first 26 games. I don’t blame oddsmakers for missing early on the Royals, as this was very unexpected. But after getting behind Kansas City, the books have been slow to back off as well, leaving plenty of good fade opportunities for bettors. Currently, only one of this team’s starting pitchers, Danny Duffy, is performing well, and the once-dominant bullpen under Ned Yost is no longer that for Mike Matheny.

Last 10 games

May 16 at Chicago White Sox (lost 4-3)

Actual game line CHI -170, my game estimator line CHI -172, lean CHI (WIN)

May 15 at Chicago White Sox (won 5-1)

Actual game line CHI -200, my game estimator line CHI -191, lean KC (WIN)

May 14 Game 2 at Chicago White Sox (lost 3-1)

Actual game line CHI -170, my game estimator line CHI -172, lean CHI (WIN)

May 14 Game 1 at Chicago White Sox (won 6-2)

Actual game line CHI -200, my game estimator line CHI -210, lean CHI (LOSS)

May 13 at Detroit (lost 4-3)

Actual game line DET -105, my game estimator line DET -120, lean DET (WIN)

May 12 at Detroit (lost 4-2)

Actual game line KC -145, my game estimator line KC -131, lean DET (WIN)

May 11 at Detroit (lost 8-7)

Actual game line KC -125, my game estimator line DET -110, lean DET (WIN)

May 9 vs. Chicago White Sox (lost 9-3)

Actual game line CHI -142, my game estimator line CHI -150, lean CHI (WIN)

May 8 vs. Chicago White Sox (lost 9-1)

Actual game line CHI -160, my game estimator line CHI -156, lean KC (LOSS)

May 7 vs. Chicago White Sox (lost 3-0)

Actual game line CHI -148, my game estimator line CHI -150, lean CHI (WIN)

As you can see, my simulations have proven more accurate in eight of the last 10 Royals games. Now let’s look at the Twins.

Minnesota Twins

After the huge offensive outputs of the last two years, a lot was expected from the Twins again in 2021. They hit 91 home runs in 60 games last season but were swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Astros after scoring just two runs in two home games. That dismal performance seems to have carried over into the early part of this season, as the offensive numbers are down and manager Rocco Baldelli’s team has gotten a lot less from the additions to its rotation. Oddsmakers are still treating this team like the 2019-20 versions, perhaps cautious of getting burned if this lineup heats up. Strangely, it seems that the recent injury to Byron Buxton hasn’t even been accounted for in their lines lately. Buxton was hitting .370 with nine home runs when he went on the injured list, and of course he’s a vital piece in the Twins’ defense as well.

Last 10 games

May 16 vs. Oakland (lost 7-6)

Actual game line MIN -112, my game estimator line OAK -125, lean OAK (WIN)

May 15 vs. Oakland (won 5-4)

Actual game line MIN -140, my game estimator line MIN -110, lean OAK (LOSS)

May 14 vs. Oakland (lost 6-1)

Actual game line MIN -105, my game estimator line OAK -116, lean OAK (WIN)

May 13 at Chicago White Sox (lost 4-2)

Actual game line CHI -125, my game estimator line CHI -152, lean CHI (WIN)

May 12 at Chicago White Sox (lost 13-8)

Actual game line CHI -130, my game estimator line CHI -144, lean CHI (WIN)

May 11 at Chicago White Sox (lost 9-3)

Actual game line CHI -113, my game estimator line CHI -149, lean CHI (WIN)

May 8 at Detroit (lost 7-3)

Actual game line MIN -180, my game estimator line MIN -160, lean DET (WIN)

May 7 at Detroit (won 7-3)

Actual game line MIN -140, my game estimator line MIN -144, lean MIN (WIN)

May 6 vs. Texas (lost 4-3)

Actual game line MIN -170, my game estimator line MIN -197, lean MIN (LOSS)

May 5 vs. Texas (lost 3-1)

Actual game line MIN -175, my game estimator line MIN -167, lean TEX (WIN)

The Twins have been badly overpriced according to my numbers in at least six of their last 10 games. They’ve won only twice. This has been a nice moneymaker. I would continue to trust it until the lineup starts to break out, perhaps three games in a row with five or more runs or multiple home runs.

Hindsight is 20/20 for bettors, of course, but this information has been available for all these games mentioned on VSiN.com. I won’t make any ridiculous claims that this performance level will be consistent all year or for every team, but it is good evidence that oddsmakers sometimes miss. If they aren’t getting beaten up all that badly, the urgency to adapt isn’t there. You can bet if they were off by two or three points on an NFL team and were getting hammered, things would change. So let’s continue to take advantage while we can and shift when things start to turn. The AL Central has been lucrative lately for me and surely other bettors. While you’re at it, keep good notes on the underpriced Red Sox in the AL East and the overpriced Angels in the AL West.

back to news

Subscriber Only News  Vsin Exclusive

View All

Screen_Shot_2022-08-22_at_12.19.15_AM

The Lombardi Line: Bookmakers love parleys, when playing them, you want a mix of favorites and underdogs.

Pro Football Blitz: When you back teams on the raod you want a good running team, when you back teams at home you want a good passing team. With teams on the road usually the underdog, you want a team that can control time of possession like the Tennessee Titans.

 

Screen_Shot_2022-08-22_at_12.19.15_AM

Shaun King: Eagles -6.5 vs Jaguars

Brendan Gaughan: Brad Keselowski Top 3 +600

View new sortable Picks at a Glance page for Pro subscribers

Screen_Shot_2022-08-22_at_12.19.15_AM

Screen_Shot_2022-09-30_at_6.23.35_PM

Betting Splits: Percentage of handle & tickets from DraftKings, updated every 10 minutes. GO HERE.

NFL Power Ratings: 3 sets of numbers from Steve Makinen. GO HERE.

CFB Power Ratings: 3 sets of numbers from Steve Makinen. GO HERE.

View more CFB tools for Pro subscribers

View more NFL tools for Pro subscribers

Close